Gluten-free in New Mexico Part One: Albuquerque

It’s no secret I love Mexican food. While I’ve been swooning at taco and combo plates for as long as I can remember, it was especially my “go to” when I first had to give up gluten. Ask anyone following a gluten-free lifestyle, and they’ll probably tell you Mexican is a pretty easy cuisine to guess as “safe.” This is why I was so excited to head down to Albuquerque and New Mexico for my first visit. And, I’m proud to say: the Land of Enchantment didn’t disappoint.

Gluten-free in New Mexico

“Red or green?” is a question you’ll commonly hear when ordering in New Mexico. While in LA it’s usually if you want fries or kale, it’s all about the chiles throughout this state. Once I figured out my answer to the official state question (did you know New Mexico is the only state with a question as their motto?), I was well on my way to asking my common question: What’s gluten-free?

Turns out, quite a bit. I was so grateful to spend time in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos during my New Mexico visit. Each city proved to have its own authenticity you don’t often see anymore; and the food scene in these respectful towns are outstanding.

Gluten-free in Albuquerque

While there’s plenty more of places to eat and sip, come a long with me in the coming weeks as I recap a handful of New Mexican favorites serving up gluten-free goodness that were encountered during my stay. First up: Albuquerque.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, my response to “red or green?” is the often said, “Christmas.” xo

The Grove Cafe and Market

If I lived in Albuquerque, the Grove Cafe would be the place I go to grab my matcha, work on the laptop, and talk Mike into for Saturday brunch. Opened since 2006, the cafe and general store believe in serving and carrying organic, locally-sourced foods and drinks.

With mouth-watering breakfast and lunch plates, I was hoping gluten-free bread might be available to enjoy with a classic egg plate or sandwich. While no safe dough, I decided on the sweet potato hash and am glad I did. An extremely hearty blend of roasted veggies, avocado and a sunny side up egg was just what I needed for the busy day ahead.
Opened Tuesday through Sunday until 3pm, late risers will be glad to hear breakfast is served all day.

Macaroons at the Grove Cafe. (c) Mary Farah
Dreamy matcha latte at the Grove. (c) Mary Farah
My breakfast at the Grove. (c) Mary Farah
D.H. Lescombes Winery and Bistro

A little bit of European charm meets New Mexico at this chic bistro in the heart of Albuquerque. Featuring New Mexican wines, D.H. Lecombes offers a warm atmosphere with impressive lunch and dinner menus.

As soon as we got the menu, I knew we were in good hands. Several items under each course are clearly marked “GF” and they have gluten-free pasta available. No doubt if you’re a wine lover, you won’t be disappointed at D.H. Lescombes. Their knowledgeable staff can offer excellent parings based on plates you decide on. Their array of seafood plates were mouth watering, and deciding on the salmon was not a disappointment.

El Pinto

At El Pinto, get ready to know your answer to “red or green?” as this traditional New Mexican staple has been serving up the chiles since 1962. Expanding over the years, El Pinto currently has the capacity to hold up to 1,200 guests on five different patios and their ample dining room. Much like their space, their menu could have inspired the Cheesecake Factory. With plenty to choose from, El Pinto is extremely gluten-free aware; with a separate menu and fryers.

Lots of classics will catch your eye as your peruse the menu. One plate for the carnivores is their famous red chile rubbed ribs. Rated the #3 Best Ribs in America by the Food Network, this is just one of the many authentic and gluten-free dishes you’ll find at El Pinto.

Appetizers at D.H. Lescombes. (c) Mary Farah
Salmon cooked to perfection at D.H. Lescombes. (c) Mary Farah
Tapas plates at Mas Tapas y Vino. (c) Mary Farah
Campo at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm

Don’t let this unassuming B&B on the outskirts of town fool you; within their bistro, you’ll find the pioneer, the one and only, Chef Jonathan Perno. A five time semi-finalist for a James Beard award and true advocate for the farm to tale strategy, Perno serves up items as fresh and in-season as they come at Campo; which explains the often-long waits for a table on any given weekend.

Extremely gluten-free (and vegan) conscious, what a treat it was to be served my own plate of bread and butter as I awaited my egg scramble at brunch. With such an open and lively atmosphere, it made our wait for a table seem like nothing as we enjoyed the bed and breakfast grounds, gardens and even encountered an majestic orange cat to entertain us. If some retail therapy is on the agenda, enjoy the adorable gift shop offering locally-made lavender lotions and scents, as well as a coffee stand brewing espresso!

Mas Tapas y Vino

With the wide range of dining options in town, treat yourself to an elegant evening at Mas Tapas y Vino. I had the pleasure to head here after a beautiful flamenco performance at Tablao Flamenco (did you know Albuquerque is America’s flamenco capital?), which I highly recommend any visitor to “ABQ” puts on the must-do list.

Feeling that flamenco passion, we pulled up seats at the gorgeous restaurant inside Hotel Andaluz. Hotel history buffs will take note that this was Conrad Hilton’s fourth hotel purchase, and the first modern high-rise in town.

While you might think of “light bites” when you hear tapas, that wasn’t our case during this beautiful dining experience! You’ll find a wide array of plates to satisfy every dietary lifestyle, including vegan and gluten-free dishes, so be prepared to go home full.

(*Disclosure: I was a guest at several restaurants mentioned in this article. All opinions are my own and thank you to Visit ABQ for such a fabulous trip.)

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